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TNTP Teaching Fellows Phoenix, AZ

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    Arizona Teaching Fellows

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    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in Phoenix, AZ
    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in Phoenix, AZ

    I worked at TNTP Teaching Fellows as an intern (less than a year)


    You get some experience teaching. If you're lucky, it may even be relevant.

    If you make it through the program, you're able to get your certification while working.

    You'll meet some amazing people in the program, at least, outside of management.


    Before I started the program I asked how many people don't make it through, and they told me, "Only a handful. Maybe 5 or 6 every year out of more than eighty." What they don't tell you is that people are frequently kicked out of the program for a variety of (often vague) reasons and many quit throughout the process. I'd estimate that about 15-25% of those fellows who are there the first day don't successfully complete the program for whatever reason. Some of them aren't cut out for teaching, but many would do well. In any event, this is not information that they're willing to share, but it is completely disingenuous of them not to do so.

    The entire program is based upon a completely reductive and wrong-headed belief that teaching is the exact same for K-12 irrespective of grade level. When I entered the program I was supposed to teach at the High School level. A few days in I was told that I would be teaching Primary Education but that, "It would make no difference." I was gullible enough to believe this and in retrospect I feel as if it was a bait-and-switch.

    It would seem as if the staff also has entirely different standards for different classes, and, it would seem, different fellows. I was working with fellows who were dealing with a very large, completely out-of-control class that couldn't have possibly gotten them objectively to a passing score on the scoring rubric; a class that regularly ejected students where very few of the students were ever engaged in the work and teachers couldn't even make it through half of their lessons, and in spite of this, they were able to pass in spite of the fact that grading rubric would not have allowed them to do so if followed objectively. I also observed evaluations for other fellows teaching the same class I had, who had more students who were completely disengaged and misbehaving and those same fellows were able to receive significantly higher scores on the rubric than I was by the same evaluator. I'm happy that all of these people were able to pass, as they were my friends, many of them did legitimately have tough classes and I thought that they'd all make great educators but when you are on the wrong side of a supposedly objective rubric that you know you're on the right side of and you see fellows who are clearly not being held to the same standards you're supposedly being held to, it makes you feel a bit bitter.

    The scoring is ABSOLUTELY a black box. You receive a score in a very small number range for an evaluation that lasts for all of about 20 minutes. 4 evaluations later and you're given a final score. These scores are not objective, nor are they consistent. For instance, my first formal evaluation was in a session in my second week that was so-so and I did fairly well. My last evaluation was in my last week after I had made significant improvements and the structure of the lesson was virtually identical and I did much more poorly in spite of the fact that virtually all the students were engaged in the task at hand and required very little in the way of behavioral redirects. You are literally given two sentences on your evaluation explaining why you received the score you did. There is little-to-no-feedback given and I didn't even really have much of a dialogue with my coach until the last weekend or so when it became clear that I was in jeopardy. It's purely a numbers game. It's formulaic strategies couched in a largely subjective grading rubric.

    STAY AWAY! Arizona is so desperate for teachers and there are so many opportunities to quickly receive your license in the state that you don't need to subject yourself to this. Look into Rio Salado's program. It will save you a ton of money and the classes can be done online. I know a fellow who was asked to leave almost immediately after the program started, but she had a job already lined up and was able to keep her position and obtain her license this way. You don't need to subject yourself to this. If the opportunity cost is low and the finances are manageable, maybe consider it. But you don't need your self-worth and perception of your skills as a teacher tied to this dishonest, formulaic and reductive program.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Let fellows know ahead of time what the attrition rate is actually like.

    Do more to ensure that scoring of fellows is done objectively and honestly; perhaps by having multiple evaluators scoring the same class at the same time or ditching the system entirely.

    Hold everyone to the same standards.

    Provide more and higher-quality feedback with specific, concrete, observable and sequential steps on what to do that allow fellows to play the numbers game a bit better.

    Doesn't Recommend
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